Klowns with frowns.
Klowns with smiles.
Klowns with long white teeth that gobble up old people who sit on toilets in Kansas after a long night’s rest.
Klowns are very, very bad creatures. They leer with dope filled eyes and insane smiles.
Klowns are molesters of children and cats.
Klowns live in heating vents laughing at people in cabins in the mountains.
Klowns like toxic cotton candy and poisonous popcorn.
Klowns like jailed inmates with large hairy butt-holes.
Klowns live on the other side of the mirror where dogs eat cats and rats eat cats.
Klowns scare me because they have no true faces, only makeup, when washed away leaves only the blank gray absence of misery.
KLOWNS ARE HORRID!!!!!!!!!!!!
Byron first saw the Klown sign posted on the chain link fence down by the baseball field a couple of days after he finished writing his poem, Klowns Are Horrid. He tried to remember if he had seen that sign with the Klown before he wrote the poem. Had that Klown sign, spelled with a K instead of a C, been his inspiration to write the short poem with the same spelling, or could it be…? No, that was foolish. The idea that something so curious could have a connection without forethought was silly. Writing was fiction pure and simple.
Despite his fellow boy’s noncommittal opinions on his writing Byron had pursued his passion for the printed word. Fourteen and new to the printed page certainly gave him pause on many fronts. Why would anyone want to read what a kid wrote? Call it a confidence issue. Still the urge to write became like flood waters beating against a dying damn. There was no stopping the rush of ideas when they flooded over him. Byron had started wrestling with novels just a few months before, reading them not writing them. Many would call his young ambitions pretentious, especially in a small city like CarLowDen. When his high school guidance counselor, Beverly Rock, asked about his future goals Byron’s simple reply to the question - ‘Be a writer, what else?’ This response elicited a brief chuckle from Ms. Beverly Rock. The guidance counselor had jawed on about kids Byron’s age who were reading the New Yorker, the New York Times. Had he even opened one of those respectable magazines? Byron had tuned her out thinking of the horror novelists that had inspired him.
The boy had shrugged blushing at Ms. Rock’s response.
Now as he stood in the dim lamplight of his bedroom staring down at the poem he had just completed and then over at the tacked up Klown sign that he had torn down from the baseball field fence he almost shuddered. Curious linkages, his cousin Dick might have said. Byron had to agree. Something mysterious was happening again in CarLowDen. It had been almost a year since he and the Boy’s encounter with, whatever that thing was last Christmas, a demon, or some remanence of Christmas misery. The Boys had begun to laugh off those horrible events of last year. Not Byron. He remembered them all too well to forget. Big Jimmy wouldn’t even discuss what had happened then. Though Byron had noticed that the big kid had started wearing a small silver crucifix around his thick neck. None of the other boys had pushed the big kid to spilling his guts about his memory of last Christmas Eve, or the reason for the cross. They all suspected that Jimmy knew more than he told them about how they were all saved from that Holiday Ghoul with the Santa Claus face.
Byron’s eyes flicked back to the haunted looking Klown sign feeling a tinge of a headache coming on. Removing his glasses he rubbed his burning bloodshot eyes. His mind flashed the glowing yellow eyes of the Klown on the poster. Byron’s eyes opened quickly again. Replacing his glasses he looked back at the Klown sign again.
“The Klowns are coming,” Byron read the note scrawled along the bottom of the picture. The phrase was simple. Spooky and to the point. What would the Klowns do when they arrived? Byron didn’t think that he wanted to know.
The image of the Klown, yes spelled with a K, was extremely creepy. Byron had heard about the Stephen King novel titled IT, with a mysterious creature buried in the guise of a colorful clown. The paperback version of that novel had been on the CarLowDen Department Store’s book shelves for the last three months. He saw it every time he went into that store. Byron hadn’t read the book but his best friend Dick Schneider had and said it was killer scary. Kept him up night after night. Looking back down at the Klown poster Byron smirked.
“You guys are riding the King wave. Never a good thing,” he said hearing the edge of envious sarcasm in his voice.
The poster with the Klown on it seemed to glow with a strange kind of ink that Byron had never seen before. There was no notice where the poster had been printed or who was responsible for posting it. The image was of a single clown holding a balloon. It’s eyes glowed yellow. A thick patch of disheveled orange hair carrot topped its balding head. A column of four red poke-a-dots ran down the front of its dark suit. A suit that almost completely blended into the dark back drop of the sign. A frayed ring of lace surrounded the neck just below its horrid face. Blue sparks rose up from the cavity of its yellow eyes like war blasts from enemy cannon fire, or maybe more like deep knife slices cut into the flesh of some poor victim by a madman. Maybe a local nut job who had just escaped from the loony bin on Higby Hill? Byron almost chuckled at his imagination. The Klown image on the sign was effective though. It was the yellow eyes that stared into your soul as you looked over the picture that really caught your attention. The scariest thing about the picture was that it seemed to hint at maybe a performance of some kind, but there were no dates, or locations for where these Klowns would appear. Instead it simply pulsated a warning – ‘The Klowns are coming.’ Would you really want to see those Klowns when they arrived. A chill ran through him then.
“Byron! Dick’s on the phone,” he heard his mother calling up the stairs to his bedroom on the second floor. He jumped like a little wuss. He wanted to laugh at what a frightened jerk he was but Byron just stared at those glowing yellow eyes again. His older brother Skeets room was one floor up. He had heard his older brother walking around up there. Skeet was probably working on a new painting. Byron wondered if his older brother had seen the small Klown poster yet. “Byron?!”
“Okay, just a second,” he called back down.
He removed the sign from the wall and folded up the small poster shoving it into the front pocket of his jeans as he exited the bedroom.
“Hey Goon. Did you finish it?”
“The poem dick-head. Did you finish the poem about clowns that you and the other dick-head were talking about?”
“You mean Dick?” Byron felt slightly dazed in response to his brother’s question about his Klowns Are Horrid poem. How did Skeet know that he was writing a poem about Klowns? Had he been listening over the second telephone line when Dick and Byron were discussing writing together.
Their mother’s irritable voice came from below again.
“Yeah!” Byron shouted back down the stairs.
“Watch it kid,” his father’s voice bellowed up from the first floor of the house. The whole stairwell boomed with Ray’s voice.
Their house was old, a renovated three floors liquor store and service garage during World War II. The stairwells echoed, making even a modest response sound like a megaphone blast. Their old man had built a third floor for storage area but Skeet claimed the whole third floor for himself two years before. He had also claimed the second floor kitchen and bathroom for his own use. Skeet was standing in the open door that would lead to his third floor fortress of solitude now. Byron smelled the oil paint on his brothers hands. Skeet was painting again. He was watching his little brother with curious eyes. Byron removed the folded up Klown picture from his pocket. Skeet exited the safety of his third floor approaching his little brother.
“Is that it? Can I read it?”
“No, I mean yeah you can read it. The poems on my desk,” Byron said motioning toward the open door of his bedroom.
“If the poems in there, then what’s in your hand?”
“Byron! Dick’s waiting!” Their mother again.
“I’ll show you later,” he said exiting the second floor flat and spiraled down the dusty staircase to the first floor where his mother, Barb, held the telephone in her impatient hand. “Thanks.”
Byron took the telephone.
“Hey man what the hell took you so long? Jerking off again, or what?”
“Nah, what’s up?”
“Dave wants to hang out tonight, maybe catch a flick at the Town Hall. They got a double feature. Romero and Hooper, you in?”
“Shit yeah I’m in,” Byron said and then heard his mother and father chastise him for his swear. “Sorry.”
He covered the receiver and blushed.
“Well Dave’s got the wheels so see you in ten,” and like that Dick was gone and the line was dead.
That was Dick - out like a light. When his cousin spent the weekends at the Rigby home, and Dick seemed to be doing that more often now that he and Byron were fourteen, they would be in a heated conversation one minute and the next minute Dick would be snoring like a band-saw. Byron and the other boys always gave Dick hell for what they termed his ‘Burn Out Factor’. They each had their thing. Big Jimmy had his dog years, something the rest of the boys called Jimmy Time. This meant that every time the boys planned anything, didn’t matter what, they would have to wait an extra hour or more because Jimmy was a big kid and he moved like the earth revolves around the sun. Skeet was always a miser with his cash since he was the only boy old enough that actually worked. The others would try hitting Skeet up for a few bucks but he put the kibosh on any of that nonsense.
Byron smiled replacing the telephone receiver on the jack.
“You better watch that lip kid,” Byron’s father, Ray, said. He was seated at the kitchen table with his wife. They were in their customary after dinner spots sipping off strong black coffee. Byron nodded.
“Yeah, sorry. Listen guys you think maybe I could borrow five or ten bucks for the flicks tonight? Dick and Dave are going and they want to stop by and pick me up in a few minutes,” Byron asked peevishly.
Mom and dad exchanged a reasonably condemning glance, but like all good parents they loved their son and with a workman’s groan Ray lifted his left butt-cheek and removed his tired old brown leather wallet from the back pocket of his tired old blue jeans. Fishing inside the wallet he pulled out a couple of fives and handed them over to his son. Before letting the green go Ray held Byron’s hands a moment longer.
“Just popcorn and soft drink. No booze, got it, and I expect the lawn raked this weekend” Ray said.
The absurdity in that request almost made Byron laugh. If there was one thing Byron Rigby never did was break the no alcohol and smoking rules. He had had plenty of opportunities. Hell he had cousins that smoked the weed and drank hard whisky like it was going out of style, but Byron, being fourteen and naïve as a lifelong virgin, had never even tried the stuff. His older brother Skeet was even more anti-drugs and alcohol than Byron was himself.
“Of course, sure,” Byron said trying to keep the smile off his lips.
Byron met his father’s blue eyes then. Those were the blues eyes that his old man had gifted to his son down the old genetic tree. Then the tension lifted and they both smiled matching smiles and Ray ruffled his sons dark wavy hair. The boy hated when his dad did that lately. Byron had recently discovered something called a comb, and he liked what he discovered in that invention and what it could do to his unruly dark waves. He had also recently met girls too, and many of these girls also liked a boy with a combed head of hair. Besides the girls, Byron also enjoyed what the comb represented, law and order. And with his thick waves he needed a lot of both. Byron adjusted his old vintage glasses on his long nose and slid the bills into the front pocket of his pock-marked jeans.
“Thanks,” he said.
He heard the concern in his mother’s voice and Byron glanced at her for a moment. He felt the cash rubbing against the folded up Klown poster in his pocket, and something frightened him. He felt an instant of pain and nausea. There was something in his mother’s voice that seemed to connect with this feeling of fear.
“Yeah?” he almost belched out feeling his stomach rumble.
“Everything okay? You look a little peaked,” Barb asked touching his pale cheek. “Sweaty too.”
Byron fingered the folded Klowns sign again and shrugged. Was he sweating? He hadn’t noticed.
“Sure, I’m fine. Why?”
Barb just shrugged as well.
“Call it a mother’s intuition.”
She and her son shared many of the same internalizing traits. Repressing concern and not wanting to be a burden on others was at the top of the list. They exchanged a concerned expression and then Byron turned to leave the kitchen when his mother yelled after him.
“It’s cold out. Don’t forget your coat.”
“I won’t,” Byron called back.
Just then his friend David Wolf’s GMC horn belched an unwelcomed salute. It was a kind of a Yowzza sound, like a dying cow.
“The boys are here. Gotta go.”
Byron walked down the hallway stopping only briefly to slide on his corduroy jacket that he removed from the hallway closet. Barb followed him carrying her steaming mug of deep black joe. Ray had risen from the kitchen table and had poured them both a fresh mug. They were standing in the hallway watching their son reach out for the front door.
“Enjoy yourself. You have change to call us when you’re done right?”
Byron fished in his jeans pocket for a quarter as the GMC belched another impatient salute.
“I’ll use a quarter from the ticket change,” Byron said. “The Town Hall tickets are only three bucks. Popcorn and soda’s not more than a couple bucks. I’ll have plenty left over to call. The payphones right there. No worries. Plus Dave’s driving.”
On cue the GMC blared a third salute.
“Speak of the Devil.”
“And the Devil will appear,” Ray said only half joking sounding like some ghoul from a late night horror flick. Ray mocked the eerie comment but in truth he wasn’t entirely sure he liked Byron’s new friend David Wolf. It wasn’t that Wolf was a bad kid it was just, well he was kind of strange.
Byron watched the unsure goofy expression on his father’s face and knew that he should laugh, but he was feeling that eerie energy from the Klown poster in his pocket. The sweat that his mother mentioned did seem to be thickening on his flesh now too. Chilling him. Was he getting sick? Not tonight. Tonight was meant for movies and popcorn.
“Don’t talk to strangers, especially clowns,” Ray almost laughed sipping off his coffee.
“Clowns?” Byron asked hearing the croak in his throat stopping with the door open.
“Yes, remember there was something in the news recently about clown sightings. Oh one lady , poor thing, was shot by someone dressed as a clown. Never caught the creep,” Barb said sounding worried.
“That was somewhere out west hon’. Wisconsin I think. Don’t scare the boy,” Ray said hugging and kissing his wife.
“Jeez,” Byron paused for a second thumbing the Klown sign in his pocket again. “Well, gotta go. Love you.”
Byron was out the door like a shot. Bad choice of words, Byron thought as the image of a gun tooting clown shooting neighborhood residences in their homes appeared in his mind. He walked quickly to the revving bright yellow GMC. The early evening air was cold as hell out and Byron saw his two buddies inside the cozy cab of Dave’s truck. Dick rolled down the window when he saw his cousin coming. Byron continued toward the GMC but then paused and looked back up at the peaked window of his older brother Skeets bedroom. The light was on behind the window, but Skeet was nowhere in sight. Byron wondered if his older brother might want to check out the flicks at the Town Hall Theater with the other Boys tonight. He smelled paint on Skeets hands earlier. He was working again.
“Hey what are you, mental? Come on we’re gonna be late for the first film man!” Dick shouted from the open passenger window. His heated breath billowed from his scruffy lips. It was most definitely damned cold out. October in the north east was a bitch and this night was no exception. It was like mother nature just gave the north east a big FU!
“Sorry. You think Skeet might want to come along?”
“The fuck I know. Get in. We’re freezing our asses off,” Dick said opening the door and dragging Byron inside the cab. Slamming the GMC’s door Dick turned to his cousin. “Your folks give you any cash?”
“Yeah, ten buck.”
Byron removed the two fived from the front pocket of his jeans smiling. Dick snagged one of the fives.
“Cool. I’ll pay you back. My old man was being a real prick tonight. He wouldn’t cough up any green,” Dick said.
“Everything okay?” David directed this question to Byron.
Byron looked back at David.
“You look kinda pale.”
“Dave’s right you look like shit man,” Dick confirmed.
“You’re no prince either. Ugly bastard. And you’re helping me rake the lawn for that fiver,” Byron said.
He looked at himself in the rearview mirror for a second and almost gasped. His eyes looked darker than normal. He was prone to dark circles around the eyes, it was a genetic trait handed down from his father. Like the blue in the eyes, but his reflection looked almost creepy now. The eyes were also bloodshot. Byron wondered if this was why his parents both seemed on edge around him earlier. Then he remembered the deep set glowing yellow eyes of the Klown on the sign folded up in his pocket.
“You look sick,” David said.
“Shit no. I’m cool.”
“Yeah? You don’t look cool,” Dick said.
“Who gives a shit. We gonna watch some flicks tonight or talk about my looks?”
After Dick slid the five into the front pocket of his leather biker jacket zipping it up he turned to his best friend.
“Man you need some vitamin C or some shit. You look white a ghost…”
Or, a clown face Byron thought creepily, but said nothing thinking about the picture in his pocket.
“I’m fine. Let’s go.”
Dave floored the GMC. The yellow truck spit up some gravel and then hit the road.
Skeet watched his younger brother, Byron, his cousin Dick and their new best friend David Wolf pull out together in Dave’s bright Yellow GMC. Who the hell owns a bright yellow truck anyway? David Wolf had only come into the Boys life six months ago. It was Dick and Byron who had actually met Dave at the local greasy spoon, Lowden’s Town Diner, while downing cup after cup of coffee. His younger brother and cousin fancied themselves writers. They spent weekends tinkering around with words and ideas. Fourteen a piece, and not a lick of logic between the two of them. The blind leading the blind Skeet thought as he watched the GMC exiting out into the early Saturday evening. The Boys were headed to town, the movie house probably, more than likely. Under normal circumstances Skeet might have been offended that his little bro didn’t bother to ask his big brother to the movies. The Rigby brothers were never tight until last year when they shared a horrible adventure. Something horrible and supernatural had been drawn to their little band, Dick, Byron, Jimmy, Wallace, Robert – Fearless – Swan, and himself. They were the Boys. The originals. After the events of last Christmas Eve Wallace, the youngest of their group had fallen out with the rest of them. He did not fight his way out but went quietly into that good night. Wallace Smith had his own unsavory crew now.
Then came David Wolf, a curious and strange new member. Skeet figured what the hell. Skeet was eighteen after all and would be heading off to college in the Spring. The Boys would be separated permanently soon anyway. There was one good thing about the Boys adopting David Wolf. He had wheels, even if those wheels were carrying a funky bright yellow chassis. That meant less need for Skeet to cart their asses around town, or worse, all the way out to Watertown. God that was over thirty miles away, and gas was not cheap. The younger Boys would offer a couple of bucks but Skeet rarely took it. He preferred to build up his favors and cash them in on choice occasions.
Dropping the curtain to the third floor window over-looking the driveway and the fork in the roads between Number Four and Hodge Road, Skeet walked back to his bedroom. As he moved through his large bedroom, one he never had to share with another soul, he started to think about his cruel behavior toward Byron. Goon, was a nickname that he had adopted years ago. Skeet tried hard to stop using the name when addressing his younger brother. The kid wasn’t so bad. He had promise. After all he had nearly died a couple of times in his short life. Once from a weird seizure that put him firmly in the hospital for two months, and the second time last Christmas Eve, well Skeet didn’t like to remember that. Just thinking of the horribly demented Christmas carolers trying to kill them last year was almost too much to bare. Skeet had even stopped calling his little brother Goon, or almost stopped. The nickname was part of the growing pains he experienced after Byron was born. All attention turned from a single child to a sibling. No one could resist a bouncing baby boy.
As he reached the door in the far wall of his attic bedroom he forgot these uncomfortable thoughts and focused on what really mattered now. What lay beyond that attic door. The converted attic was spacious. There was Skeets sagging mattress on a thirty-year-old frame. Three dressers and two walk-in closets, plenty of space for one eighteen-year-old biding his time treading water before officially diving into adulthood. One of those dressers, the chipped white one had a padlock on the bottom drawers. The reason being that Skeet was a dealer, not of drugs but of pictures, nudy pictures. He had a stack of pornography piled as high as his knees inside those drawers. The Boys and other CarLowDen classmates who were too young, or too chicken to buy their own skin mags at the drug stores went to Skeet Rigby for their supply. If his parents ever found that product in his dresser his dad would throw him out of the house quick as look at him. Hence, the padlock.
Tonight though Skeet never looked twice at the white dresser with the lock on it. No. Tonight he had bigger fish to fry. At the end of the long wide room was an addition that his father built about five years ago. This addition was a simple eight foot by ten foot sized space meant for storage, Skeet instead turned it into his art studio. There was no lock on this door, no reason for one. He chose this room for his painting space because the light was good and the temperature was reasonable for his oils. This studio was where he entered now, pulling the metal chain that switched on the overhead bulb. An eighty-watt bulb with a green shade casting the small room in a pleasant emerald glow. This was the place that Skeet Rigby loved more than any other on the planet. Here he was a creator. The eighteen year old senior was planning to make a career as an artist. His ax of choice was the painter’s canvas. Thick rich oils, the scent permeated his studio space. The scent was intoxicating.
Still, despite painting as his first passion Skeet was also gifted with many artistic talents. An old Pentax camera, that his mother’s parents gave him when he was sixteen, sat on the shelf atop a stack of personal photo albums. The camera was evidence of his talent with film and lenses.
This evening though was not meant for the camera. Skeet walked over to his current canvas. A large oil painting, larger by far than anything else that he had ever attempted before. Three foot by four foot in size. But he was eighteen now, a senior at CarLowDen High School. If he intended to make a name for himself in the art world he would have to go big or go home. He remembered his art teacher telling his class that. Looking over the large canvas, that he stretched himself, he had to admit that he was doing just that. Going big. The canvas had the tracings of an image of two characters, predator and prey, inspired by Byron’s poem Klowns Are Horrid. He had sneaked a peak at the poem weeks before.
“Klowns,” Skeet whispered looking at the outline of the predator.
On the edge of the canvas was a handwritten poem, one that he transcribed from his brother. Byron claimed to have strange dreams that inspired the Klown poem. He told Skeet sometimes that these dreams were what inspired his stories. Now Skeet looked at the poem scrawled on the yellow lined slip of paper and he read the last line.
“Klowns Are Horrid.”
He read the line over and over. Remembering his own dreams, nightmares rather, about a shadow something with a white face, a red grin, great bulging yellow eyes. It was the yellow eyes that he remembered almost as much as the grin because those yellow eyes were lunatic eyes. He read a stanza of the poem again.
“They smile with dope filled eyes and insane smiles…Klowns.”
The image gave Skeet a chill. Was it possible that he could capture such an innately horrible image, the image from his dream? Was it possible that he and Byron were sharing the same dream? Skeet wondered as he lifted the paint brush and mixed two shades of yellow. Lemon yellow with a hint of saffron. Almost. A little white. Yes, but the mixture was not quite right. When his eyes shifted to the patch of red on the paint pallet he wondered. Sticking his current paint brush between his teeth he snagged a smaller brush, a 2/0 Alan Johnson, that he purchased last year at the CarLowDen Department store. The craft section. Dipping the edge of the brush bristles into the red paint he held it there for only a second and then lifted the brush away from the pallet. With heavenly care he tapped the edge of the bristles into the yellow mix and then swirled the colors. After a few minutes of blending he had it, the yellow color that he would need to fill in the Klowns eyes.
“Perfect,” he whispered feeling a cold sweat covering his entire body. Skeet removed his glasses and wiped at his brow. This painting had been the toughest work he had ever done. There was something he felt that was so important to get just the correct everything. From posture of the characters to color of them, to the blank tan backdrop.
Wiping the paint off the bristles with a rag dowsed with paint thinner Skeet slid the Alan Johnson 2/0 back in its place and lifted the tube of red paint.
“Blood Red Masters series, by Reapers Miniatures,” he intoned.
That was curious. He didn’t remember buying this brand of paint. In fact, Skeet had never remembered seeing this tube among his piles of paint before. And how did that patch of red paint end up on his painter’s pallet anyway?
“Curiouser and curiouser,” he said grinning despite the creepy sensation that lingered.
The dreams, his brothers poem, and the Klown sign tacked on the wall of the greasy spoon, Lowden Town Diner where he and Big Jimmy had eaten breakfast that morning seemed too coincidental. Skeet looked toward the white dresser where he curiously locked away that Klown sign that he had taken off the diner wall. Why would he do such a thing? Lock away a sign for some strange performance, a band maybe. ‘The Klowns are coming.’ The sign read. But were the Klowns a band? Skeet didn’t think so. The sign felt more like a warning. If that was the case who posted them all around town?
“The Klowns are coming,” Skeet whispered to himself again as he looked at the glowing yellow eyes with the dash of blood red reflecting back at him from the canvas.
Yes that little dab of red brought out the life in those yellow Klown eyes. The painting would be finished soon. He had locked himself away for the better part of two weeks to complete it. Skeet wasn’t sure why but he had a ticking time bomb inside him. It felt as if something needed to be seen before it was too late. The Klowns were, after all, coming and Skeet meant to have the painting done in time for their arrival. He smiled awkwardly as he began mixing more paints.
“So Skeet didn’t give you shit about not inviting him to the flicks tonight?” Dick asked as the ticket dispenser slid their tickets through the little tray beneath the glass window in front of the Town Hall Movie Theater.
“Nah, he just asked if I finished that poem I was writing,” Byron said sliding the last two bucks into his jeans. He was hoping that he could afford a small barrel of popcorn and a soft drink with the two bucks that remained.
“Did I what?”
They were opening the glass double doors to the theater. David was walking close behind the younger two. Byron noticed the roll of bills that David stuffed back in his black leather wallet. He hated the idea of asking friends for cash but he just might need to tonight.
“Finish the poem,” Dick said.
“Oh yeah sure, or at least a first draft.”
The lobby of the theater was bustling with small groups of teenagers and few assorted middle aged men, none of which were with woman. Byron noted this but thought nothing of it. When he was middle age would he be married? He wondered as he watched Dick use his five to pay for a large barrel of popcorn and an extra-large Coke.
“Hey dude, how’d you pay for your ticket?” Byron asked seeing the five that his cousin had stolen from him get cashed in for popcorn and a Coke.
Dick looked at his cousin for a minute as if maybe he had been caught cheating on exams.
“Oh, found a twenty in my jacket pocket,” Dick grinned.
Byron snagged the five out of Dick’s hands, almost snarling at his cousin’s theft.
“Fine than you can pay for your own damned refreshments,” Byron said with more of an edge in his voice than his friends were ever used to hearing.
David and Dick exchanged a concerned look again as Byron stepped up to the cashier with his five and paid, pocketing the rest of the change, noting that there were three quarters in the remains. He walked past the ticket taker, who ripped the stub and handed it back to Byron without saying anything. Byron didn’t wait for his friends. Instead he chose a spot against the back wall where the Boys usually sat. It allowed them a great view of the entire theater. A minute later David sat down next to him holding a large box of Junior Mints and a bottle of water.
“He hit the can. Said he felt like there was a shit avalanche waiting.”
They both laughed knowing Dick’s horrible digestive issues.
“What’s up with you?”
“Fuck you mean?”
“Just that. Fuck you mean? That’s not like you man. What’s going on?”
Byron sat silent for a moment. Should he tell David about the Klowns, the sign, the poem, his nightmares? Would his new friend understand and not think he was a whack job? Instead of confessing he snagged a handful of popcorn and downed them in his mouth.
“Must be a bug,” he said between chewing on bits of butter-soaked popcorn.
He swallowed a kernel and washed it down with a large Mountain Dew. The Klown picture was still in the front pocket of his blue jeans and he could easily hand it over to David, tell him that he was having nightmares. David was linked into the Boy’s way of thinking, which is why Byron and Dick started hanging out with the older Wolf kid. Older by two years. Nothing to speak of there, but David had wheels, and he had a great knowledge of films and comics. Those were essentials to being one of the Boys. Byron looked once at David noticing that his friend was sitting one seat away. Perfect distance. Again Byron was thinking about David’s connection with the rest of them and then reached into the front pocket to retrieve the sign with the haunted Klown when Dick arrived.
“You boys seen this?”
He was standing next to their row holding a small sign.
The theater lights started flashing then.
“Sit down man the double features about to begin,” Byron said trying to avoid Dick’s question and that haunted sign he held up. The Klown eyes seemed to glow in the dark theater. Dick just stared at the others as the lights dimmed and the projector started up.
“Sit down Dick,” David suggested but Dick was still standing, still holding the Klown sign close, too close to Byron’s face.
“Look familiar?” Dick waved the sign at the boys.
“Nah, never seen it before,” Byron said but his hand went into his pocket and a streak of fear raced through him. The Klown sign was gone. Now as he looked at the picture in his cousins hand he saw the folds in the paper, the folds he made before sliding that creepy image into the front pocket of his jeans.
“Never seen it before, eh?” Dick asked wagging it close.
“Sit down!” Someone from a side aisle shouted at Dick.